Finish a Mural

One Step at a Time to Finish

Finishing involves painting, cleaning up and changing colors to do it again. Persistence pays off in this line of work, and so does good planning. Remember, taking time to plan for less cleanup makes the process of painting a large mural much easier. I paint the entire length of the surface over and over until I’m done. Simple tools are what I use, like a handy “paint can lid” pallet with large pools of the color on it. It is easy to hold in one hand as I use it to mix paints on my brush. Most importantly, if I run low on a  color, it is easy to go back and dip in the bucket to quickly refill and continue. I grab my brushes and paint anything I run across on the wall using that group of colors. 

“B” is the longest wall being 40 feet long (400 sf), and Wall “C” is 12 feet (120 sf).

wall B treelineWhen I put the frosty trees in, I also put in more of the white on the mountain tops at the same time. Catching all the things using whatever color I am working with.

wall B treeline 3I see a real good separation after the green and gray treelines on the horizon are rendered.

wall B treeline 4Adding the trunks with dark shadows on the closest evergreens to give a deeper feel to their shadows.

Day is Finished

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When I am wanting to get a mural finished, I get kind of lost in my painting and loose track of time. The jobsite supervisor is telling me it is time to get home as he sings me a howling song. It is real good for me to have this kind of buddy around because he makes me take breaks and walk around with him. He never lets me eat lunch along. If I get lost in my work Max will bring me back down to reality. Dogs are some of the best people! If you would like to see more of this fantastic dude check out this link.

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Foggy or Not on the Mountain

Allisons Idea for the mural
Allisons Idea for the mural

Now it is time to add fog on a mountain top. Ever wondered what fog is?

The under painting is done. Here is a refresher peek at the sample provided. To me this appears like a foggy day of snowing on the mountain. Toning down all the colors by applying a layer of gray and then rapidly wiping with sponges to remove layers.

Before the Fog on the Mountain

wall A Before FogHere is a picture of wall A before the fog layer is applied to the mountain scene. You can see the bright trees and slopes very clearly.
After the fog layer application here is how it appeared.

After the Fogwall A after fogwall A after Fog with BThe difference is really noticeable when you look around the corner at wall B without the fog. Hmmmmm.

I took a few more comparison looks from the second wall and the fogged wall and my gut reaction was YUCK! So before I did any more of the walls, I walked up to the ski resort offices and asked the big cheese to come on down and take a peek before I proceed. He walked in immediately noticing wall B located straight in front of him, which had not been fogged, and said he liked it. Then he turned to his left and saw wall A with the fog layer and just blurted out, “I hate it!” He much preferred the other walls and so did I. Yay.

Error

That meant I had to remove as much of the layer of paint making up the fog as soon as possible. I spent the next half hour scrubbing with sponges and towels and was able to lift off about half the gray. Repainting the dulled areas I changed some of the color scheme as I proceeded. The most noticeable color changes were to add more green tints to the faraway tree line on the horizon. It was a couple hours of fine-tuning to get the vibrancy back so all three walls were friends again. Here is how wall A looks after the re-do was done.

wall A redo

These kinds of things happen, but I am getting better at trusting my instincts and questioning whenever I get a feeling things are not right. I never assume that I know better than my customer, making an effort to always listen to what they want. At least I didn’t go ahead with what I thought they wanted and do the whole project and have to do it all over after they let me know. Re-do’s aren’t much fun so if I can limit it to a lesser quantity I am a lot happier.

Trees, Trees, Trees

Painting winter trees for an interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. These trees in a winter landscapes do not come naturally for me, I had to teach myself. I did not grow up knowing what the trees look like here or even knowing what winter looks like. At 30-years-old I moved from the tropics to Washington State and fell head-over-heals in love with winter and skiing. My eyes have seen a lot of these views over the years. Which was helpful in teaching myself about the four seasons, flora and fauna up here in the northwest.

One of the things that used to throw me for a loop, “What is the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees? ”

Painting Winter Trees

After figuring out the type and style of the trees in this mountain top mural, it becomes easier to proceed. I notice that I am painting 4 different color schemes of trees on the mountains. Painting one type of tree at a time throughout the whole 52 feet before changing color pallets, saves me time and energy. It also proves that doing all of one task before starting another is a good idea. My color pallet is usually a paint can lid with pools of 3-5 different colors that I mix as I paint.

I’m sure a thesis or two have been written about this phenomenon  being discovered. Words come to mind like productivity and work efficiency, you know, all those “foreign terms” to an artist’s soul. 

Winter Trees in the Distance

Wall C Horizon treesFaded and short rows of trees rendered in the distance. Grabbing very light blue, green, grays and white colors and I quickly add a horizon row of faded distant trees. Starting on wall “C” I put a line of light gray with a touch of teal small trees on a distant ridge just below the mountains.

Mid Range Frosty White Trees

Wall B Mid Range Grays

Frosty whites painted in the medium distance area overlapping the trees in the distant horizon. Cleaning the brushes, I place random frosty white trees by first under painting a gray base. By the time I finish the last base the first one is tacky enough to add white layers on top.

Gray and Green Trees Mid Range

Wall B Mid Range Trees

Grayed greens overlapping the horizon line and mixed in the middle with the frosty whites. Cleaning the brushes again I grab grays with my primaries and begin mixing by dipping the brush in different colors and mixing on the wall as I paint.

Large Up-Front Green Trees

wall B & C trees

Lastly, are the large forest green trees that are close-up in the foreground. I begin to render these only occasionally in the image.

As I finish all the trees on wall “B” & “C” I look back at the first wall “A”. I see an error. It becomes obvious that I have put way too many trees in the foreground on that wall. There is a good reason to not have the trees come right down to the base of the wall where the bench and cubbies underneath are for the kids. Keeping the lower wall area clear allows the kids to be able to lean back without worrying against the wall. Furthermore, with too many trees coming right down to the bench makes the sight becomes distractive and busy, instead of comforting and inviting. I make a mental note to myself to change the first wall to have less up front and personal trees to remedy this.

Wall A Grays and White Trees

You can see how changing the trees to gray and green along with the frosty whites and leaving only a couple green guys up front totally changed it into a more distant and approachable view.

Tree Perspective

initial tree sketchMy thoughts were on tree shapes and how the weather affects perspective values as I drove up the mountain. Distant trees almost disappear into the softness as we travelled the road through some pretty thick fog this morning. As a result of the poor visibility, we had to go real slow until we got about half way up the hill and then we broke through the fog layer. Surprise! Brilliant sun greeted us, with everything sparkling and lightly frosted, which was absolutely gorgeous. We pulled into the resort and unloaded tools.

Sometimes, it is hard to figure out what to start with. When that happens I start on the first thing I see. This morning that was, sketching the first tree in simple impressionistic shapes then adding a cast a shadow. Quickly placing the rest of the trees on the wall gives me a good idea of how this will be looking.

trees in wall A

Check Out Real Trees

chair one fog
When in doubt take a look at reference material. Taking a coffee break we walk outside and take a peek at a real trees on the hill before we paint any further. It is always really neat to look at the real colors of nature. The chill was noticeable and another layer of heavy fog was drifting down from above, making everything real quiet. Here is the view from the bottom of chair one where Max and I admire the hill. Winter is on the way!

Using a mixture of natural colors along with primaries, I continue to fill-out tree bodies. Colors used include burnt sienna, umber, white, and mixtures of the primaries of yellow, red and blue. I quickly add little cast shadows on the snow from the tree trunk bases, and almost instantly don’t like it. When I step back I realize that I am also not getting the depth that I want yet. Everything looks as though they are at about the same “depth of field” (the same distance away from me) so I need to do something different. treeline full greens

Perspective in the Trees

trees gray green whiteStarting in again working on the tree perspectives using greys and white much more boldly. Immediately we begin to see remarkable results. There is a real distance accomplished by adding greys. It is astonishing to me, how this change in value really makes the tree take a step back in space. As I add more greys I am being careful to reserve enough dark forest green shadows in each tree. I want to feel as though I can reach into the branches and touch a trunk. Using a lot more white on other groups of trees gives an occasional “frosty the snowman” surprise tree in the mix.

trees with no shadow

Are you a sharp eyed individual?

You may have noticed missing cast shadows on the foreground. The shadow lines just seemed too busy and not to serve any purpose. Thank goodness I am using wall paint latex, so I can eradicate errors easily. By the way, artist’s are allowed to change their minds.

Real Life Mural Painting

Background Paint

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This is big painting in real life on a long wall 40’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (400 sq ft) at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA. There are columns, a doorway along with a storage cabinet to avoid. Some planning and adjustment to accommodate the obstacles is required. As explained in the previous post, I am following a basic chaulk layout drawn on the wall. I will paint any electrical conduit encountered to try and achieve a synonymous feel across the image.

49 N Mural Bkgrnd 031

Obstacle Courses In Real Life

Obstacles are real life. I sometimes have to modify curves after I step back and see they are not matching up. You actually loose sight enough by the column to think you have it right till you get down and step back. Take a look on the right side of the column where the chaulk line is a little off already. I guess if I stayed within the lines I’d have less of these types of adjustments to make but I do tend to get a little free arm swinging when painting large and I absolutely love it.

49 N Mural Bkgrnd 027

Progressing over the doorway and around the fire alarm, the mountains appear in the distance on the wall. Sometimes it seems hard to make the image stay continuous when divided by columns and other things but, I find that I simply ignore them. If I paint as if those items are not there, the image feels uninterrupted.

49 N Mural Bkgrnd 032 49 N Mural Bkgrnd 033

 The next two sections of wall have their backgrounds laid in going towards the last wall corner. You can see how the lines need to read across the columns. When I reach the cabinet in the corner the background stops at the side, continuing over only the top of it.

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WALL “C” is 12’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (120 sq ft) which is the area where the cash register is manned. At the end of the day the last wall’s background is laid in here but not yet complete.

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Painting Mural Backgrounds

Tree Placement

Painting with quick and light strokes I put forest on first wall lightly with some clouds above the mountains. The big tree in the foreground on the front right does not sit well with me.WALL “A” is 20’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (200 sq ft). It is time to get moving with painting the rest of the mural background mountains.

wall A background with trees

Background Painting

The second wall background painting begins as I use the light chaulk guidelines that I did at the beginning.WALL “B” is 40’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (400 sq ft). It is fun to be able to imagine an assortment of perfect skiing and boarding slopes as I paint. It almost seems to get colder as I progress across the wall. Painting dark grays and lavender gray hills layered behind medium gray mounds with light slopes in the foreground. While stepping back to admire how this arrangement of hills is working, another item screams loudly at me. Can you guess what it is? Take a look at these three pictures and see if something just grabs your attention as you are looking at the scenery.

corner wall A&B background

Camouflage

How many times have I had items in my mural areas that were horribly distracting? Lots! Unfortunately, such is life and many times these items are quite necessary and almost impossible to change.

Frustration happens when creating a “work of art” and there are obvious distractions visibly interfering. Consequentially, I have tried my best to learn ways to camouflage these un-moveable tyrants. In this area there are electrical conduits in bright and shiny aluminum going right across the sky that need some help.

wall B conduit

The person who taught me to paint houses and walls was my Dad who was a contractor. His rule was to paint every single surface. Voices from the past coming back into our lives.

No short-cuts allowed!

I remember having to paint the bottom and top of shelves in any cupboard and all sides of every door or drawer. Why did I have to paint something I wouldn’t be seeing? There was no arguing the point with him. It upset me at the time. I understand that it is important to make sure the entire surface is sealed, which is something I fully understand and agree with now. This “painting every surface” is a lifelong habit or rule I follow and it has always made a better paint job for me. Mahalo Dad!

Fixing Distractions in Paint

I back track and paint all the conduit and wire surfaces in the same colors as the mural and the improvement to the entire presentation is amazing. Take a look at before and after shots to see the difference. Isn’t it amazing? I didn’t really fix anything I just hid it. Awesome!

You can see the conduits on the left side of the column painted gray and then black where it crosses the column. The wire and conduit on the right side of the column are not yet painted and are distracting. I will be painting these surfaces from here on as I finish the mural. See how un-anticipated additional costs and time accrue?

wall B conduit painted

Take a look at the first image of this post and compare it with this image below. Wa La! No need to let distractions destroy the art.

wall A conduit Painted

Be sure to check this mural out when you visit the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA this winter and let them know what you think about their improvements!

 

Painting Begins

Initial Wall Painted

background mountains
background mountains

Painting the first wall of a mural is where I tend to experiment with colors and shapes the most. We want the mountains fading as they go off into the distance brighter trees in the foreground, so, I am using muted colors that overlap to start achieving a shortened depth of field. Consequently, you will see on the far left that I am experimenting with a little snow cap on the hill.

Snow Caps

snowcap mountains
snowcap mountains

Along with the white cap mountain tops I work my way to the right trying clouds above the hilltop to see what it looks like. The jury is still out about whether this is the best sky treatment for this room scenery.

Trees

trees foreground
trees foreground

The next step is the tree layout. With a limited pallet I am staying real gray and using only quick and very essential shapes right now. The sample I was given to work with had this big tree up front, but I am not in love with it right now. That may need to change  before the job is over.

Start Next Wall

background mountains next wall
background mountains next wall

I have made the turn around the corner and started with the snow capped mountain range on the longer wall. It is a little tricky to keep the lines right when avoiding things like a column or doorway like this wall has, but it can be done. Sometimes I use a drawn chalk line across the door to the other side so I can keep the lines straight. The resort is getting ready to open their doors around Thanksgiving this year. Everyone is praying for snow. You can check out 49 Degrees North Ski Resort at their website. All in all, things are progressing at a good pace and I am happy.

Mural Prep

Painting Prep

Mural prep involves communication then coordination. The surface preparation, priming, painting and any modification to structure or trim has to be planned and executed at convenient times around the painting. This mural for the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort Kids Room is just beginning.

Mural prep left wall
Mural prep left wall

Lots of Workers

The talented carpenter dude came in and redesigned the benches adding more bench area and more cubby’s for the kids to use. A pro is always the best choice! This change makes the area more usable and maintainable as the instructors and their students meet up and get ready to go out and experience the hill each day. Others numerous trade workers spent hours priming and painting all the walls, beams and columns.

Mural prep back wall
Mural prep back wall

Now, it is time for the artist to come on in and get to work. I take paints, drop cloths, a small scaffold, ladders, buckets, brushes and my lunch box in to get setup. Here is the background all primed and painted in medium gray before I begin to paint.

Max, job supervisor
Max, job supervisor

This is Max, my helper or supervisor, always available to help me or remind me to take a break and give him a walk. 🙂

 

Mural Talk

Mural Talk

existing mural
existing mural

Beginning with mural talk, then figuring out what to paint to give the client what they want. Talking about getting ready to paint a mural starts a lot of thought process going through the mind?

How do you figure out what to paint when you are working on improving an area? I am usually told what to paint by the client and it is my job to make sure that the client’s ideas are feasible. I try to incorporate any kind of change of function they are wanting to be do. It is a blessing to be able to make creative suggestions because I have done a lot of this kind of work.

Meeting

The nursery has the majority of the daycare and infants in their area. The kids with the older kids in it, does not seem to fit with the bright animal characters anymore. Management on the hill has decided to retire the cartoon characters, who have done their job faithfully for years now. A great example of clip art by Allison who works with the kids, gave us all a great guide to follow as we made this mural. This visual information is the most helpful kind to have when trying to communicate what is wanted artistically. Much less need to guess. Yay!

Allisons Idea for the mural

Allisons Idea for the mural

More Than Just Talk

It does take more than just mural talk to get it done. A new look altogether requires a clean and patch-up job on the walls and beams, along with a great change in color schemes. A more subtle and natural scheme of colors was chosen. A limited pallet of grays and natural forest colors for trim along with beams and columns all one color (black) to bring a better cohesive feel to the whole area.

Mural Painting

Murals are another form of painting for the artist in me. Big is beautiful and fun for the artistic spirit. I have been up on a mountain doing a mural painting for 49 Degrees North Chewelah Basin Ski Resort. A place I love to spend time at in both summer and winter.

Before in the Kids’s AreaChildren's Area Before

Children’s Area before shot with Ben Short.These images are just examples of how it looks before the upgrade is done. For years, there have been bright red benches along with great comical characters lining the walls for years. This bright theme has been great but now we feel the need to provide a more mature decor for the older youngsters (teens) on the hill who are the next generation of up and coming extreme riders and race champs.

before back wall
before back wall
before left wall
before left wall
before entry wall
before entry wall
before signup checkin
before signup checkin